As data volumes grow relentlessly, business leaders are acutely aware that relying on old, inaccurate, or inaccessible data is a costly recipe for failure. Instead, they want to seize the advantages that next-generation data management can bring, such as faster response to drive improved customer service, greater efficiency to grow margins, and better decision making to deliver competitive edge. They also know the rewards are great for companies that can rapidly collect meaningful data and rapidly transform it into actionable insight.
Businesses need data management platforms that can make sense of an expanding collection of disparate systems – from corporate infrastructure to social media networks. It’s encouraging to learn that, according to an IDG Research Services survey,* their IT departments are open to the big changes that may be required to achieve this.
When IDG asked senior and mid-level IT professionals about their data management objectives, two stood out: managing costs and increasing access to real-time data. Neither should come as a surprise. Naturally, the bottom line continues to be a priority. But employees, customers, suppliers, and partners make no allowances for tight
budgets. They want information – and they want it now. Other objectives included providing support for a remote or mobile workforce, enabling better customer responsiveness, working more closely with partners, and responding faster to change.
So, what are the biggest challenges facing IT professionals as they try to achieve these objectives? Again, it’s no surprise that cost is top of the list. However, it is followed
by a range of disparate concerns, including data volumes and quality, integration of silos, inadequate staffing, and a range of technical issues, such as scalability, data redundancy, and slow querying and reporting speed.
Indeed, it is this latter area, along with total cost of ownership (again), that leads to most dissatisfaction with current data infrastructures. No wonder that nearly half of respondents plan to evaluate new solutions in the next 12 to 24 months.
In fact, 27% are willing to move to an entirely new data-management infrastructure. The rise of Big Data applications, the growing popularity of the Apache Hadoop distributed application solution, the growth of unstructured data, and the need for real-time analysis are some of the catalysts. And many companies are weighed down by legacy database infrastructures that just can’t bring them together.
Of course, there are barriers to change, but they are not overwhelming. Data management is now a critical strategic issue that outweighs short-term cost savings.
So where will they turn? Well, for organizations exploring new data management solutions, there are three main categories, each with its pros and cons:
- Turnkey hardware-and-software bundles
- Custom-built solutions
- Integrated software platforms
In fact, the integrated software option is by far the preferred approach of survey respondents. It aligns well with the product portfolio of SAP, which includes the SAP HANA® platform – an in-memory database optimized for near-instantaneous access to and analysis of real-time data.
Of course, no big IT change comes without risk – and this is certainly the case when it comes to altering – or even replacing – essential data management systems. But, increasingly, the most dangerous strategy is to do nothing – or to push a legacy system beyond its comfort zone. It is good to see that both IT and business professionals are increasingly willing to make the change.
* IDG Research Services survey of 100 senior and 100 mid-level IT managers from a variety of sectors and a range of company sizes (June 2012).